The Professional Guest: Downsizing

In order to become a bona fide Professional Guest, I have to downsize, and I mean majorly downsize. Let the discombobulation begin.

They say that moving is third on the list of the top ten most stressful life events. I can vouch for this. I thought it would be a great idea to sell all the big furniture first to get it out of the house. The result of that brilliant divination is everything that was IN the big furniture is now spilled out all over the floor in every room in the house. Now I’m tripping on things, losing things, can’t find things. This is irritating in every single way.

Moving is hell for a “detail” person. This trait serves me well in graphic design but it’s a downright liability for something as “big picture” as getting smaller. I get stuck in a corner sorting through push pins when I should be hauling truckloads to the Goodwill. I’ve given away or sold loads of belongings, thrown out several large bags full of stuff and brought five big boxfuls of papers to the shredders, yet the piles in my house don’t diminish. Squirreling from pile to pile is making me nuts. In desperation today, I called a friend and pleaded, “Even if you can’t do a thing to help me, would you just sit with me and talk while I sort paper clips??” At least I won’t feel all isolated and alone as I chuck impedimenta.

It’s also starting to get emotional, this moving business, and I’m uncomfortable. Going through my son’s baby pictures and schoolbooks makes me misty. All those books, treasures from traveling, family heirlooms, and just-in-case-I-might-need-that items are going. I can’t take ALL that stuff with me so it has to go in a box and get stored somewhere or tossed. I’m not just moving my stuff from here to there. I’m getting RID of it, downsizing to the barest essentials. This is not just a relocation, it’s a throwing away of everything I’ve ever collected over the past 40 years, a house full of memories, a paring down after paring down and then paring down again.

Carole's party 1The past year had been such a bleak one for me that I wasn’t sure I had anything left to tie me to this place. Now I’m seeing the large fabric I’ve been a piece of. It’s starting to rip a little and it’s painful. Friends are calling me as the realization hits that I’m moving away soon and we both start crying. Time out! There’s no crying in baseball! I don’t like crying! Even though there’s no distance in the spiritual realm, there’s something about this old physical body that needs to be near the ones we love… keep them close. Leaving sets a roller coaster of feelings into motion.

Shake it off! Let’s get back to Florida. I’ll be living near the ocean again! The roller coaster goes u-u-u-p! Daily swims and large doses of Vitamin D, truckin’ outdoors all year long without Nanook of the North gear, and making new friends in a relatively small town. There will be joyous reunions come January when the Minnesota Snow Birds make their way down to Florida. “We’ll boat from Pine Island down to Naples and look you up!”

Teddy bears3Back to Minnesota. The roller coaster goes dow-w-w-n. Cleaning out the attic in sweltering heat and humidity. Fortunately, a neighbor who is remodeling her home let me use her rented dumpster to toss the big, clunky stuff. I had to throw away my son’s old teddy bears. (He’s 25 now. Done with bears.) They were big bears and worn out. I felt a twang as I watched them land on top of sheetrock, old carpet and other demolition detritus. Later my neighbor, who is already sad that I’m moving, came over and frowned, “I should have told you, ‘No Teddy bears… no Teddy bears can go in the dumpster.’”

Back to Florida. The roller coaster goes u-u-u-p! Living rent free in my cousin’s condo for a few months will help me get on my feet there. What a leg up!  Her neighbor co-owns the local art gallery so I hope to make some artsy connections which is a very good place to start in a new neighborhood. Naples and surrounding areas are also booming retirement communities which has been one of my main graphic design arenas for several years. Bloomberg Business reported on June 18, 2015, “Naples, Florida, topped the list of metropolitan areas that are expected to see the most economic growth next year, according to an analysis of data in a new report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors prepared by IHS Global Insight. The economy there will grow 4.9 percent in 2016, according to the forecasts. The Villages, a sprawling senior community that has already been the fastest-growing city by population for two straight years, ranked third.” There could be plenty of work for me down there!

Back to Minnesota. Despite selling all my furniture and cutting costs in every area, I am still down to pennies in the bank. The roller coaster goes dow-w-w-n. I’m certain God is leading me away from here but the old cashola problem is a real one. How in the world am I going to afford this trip? I don’t have credit cards anymore. Cut those up more than a year ago. All I will have are the clothes on my back, my computer (otherwise known as the BAM—Big Ass Monitor), a 15-year-old car, and plenty of dreams.

A friend suggested a GoFundMe page. That would go over well. “Support your local drifter! Help Sheryl fulfill her dream of becoming a Professional Guest! Follow along as this poor, foolhardy woman gets rid of everything she owns and travels far away to find “work” she hopes is waiting for her at End of Rainbow locale. Hi ho, hi ho, she’s blogging as she goes!”

But I remind myself of the truth: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.” I will tell of the wonderful things He has done for me (Psalm 9:1), and that includes all the financial provision required to follow His lead.

The roller coaster goes arou-u-nd. There’ll be at least three more weeks of this chaos and then I sail off into the sunset. The gypsy side of me is stirred with joy and anticipation. The homebody side nags persistently, “What in the Sam Hill are you thinking?” It is both prudent and reckless, but I have to go. I can’t stay here.

“There’s a race of men that don’t fit in,
A race that can’t sit still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain’s crest;
Their’s is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don’t know how to rest.”
—Robert W. Service


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